The city of Rotorua is blessedly close to, and surrounded by, masses of native bush and scores of deep, beautiful lakes. As well as its rural setting, Rotorua's geothermal activity means that campsites are never too far from a unique thermal feature or aspect of nature.
Department of Consevation (DOC) Camp Sites:
The Department of Conservation is a branch of government tasked with preserving and conserving natural areas of New Zealand. Campsites run by the DOC are always in rural and sometimes extremely remote areas of natural beauty. Advance bookings are required for serviced and some scenic and standard DOC campsites during peak season.
You can either book online or at a DOC visitor centre. Where advance bookings are not required campsites operate on a first come first served basis. Payment is taken at the time of advance bookings, or if you haven't booked in advance, you can either pay at the self-registration stand of your campsite or to the campsite warden as he/she does the rounds.
Most DOC campsites welcome campervans but dump stations are not present at all sites. You may find that you need to offload campervan waste at facilities in nearby towns and some petrol stations. Campervan fees at DOC campsites are charged the same rate for those staying in tents, e.g. per person, per night. It's a good idea to check beforehand that the campsite you wish to stay at does accept campervans. It's also worth noting that not every DOC campsite is accessible by vehicle. If you're unsure, check the DOC website for details of each campsite.
There are three Department of Conservation (DOC) Campsites in Rotorua with more in the outer Rotorua Lakes area and the Bay of Plenty. You can visit the DOC website for full listings of campsites in regions surrounding Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty.
Hot Water Beach Campsite - Te Rata Bay, Lake Tarawera
This campsite is accessed only by boat. Totally Tarawera can take you by boat or helicopter but you cannot drive or walk to the campsite from Rotorua. It is essential to book ahead as spaces are limited. The Lake Tarawera scenic reserve has numerous opportunities for walking, kayaking and exploring the Tarawera Falls.
Lake Okareka Campsite - 104/302 Millar Road, Lake Okareka
This campsite is only 15 minutes from Rotorua city and allows budget camping in a secluded, lakeside setting. Facilities include toilets and a cooking shelter.
Lake Tarawera Outlet Campsite - Eastern shore of Lake Tarawera
A large lakeside campsite with toilets, tap water and picnic tables, this site is also linked to several walking tracks by a bridge. Summer time brings the crowds to this campsite for trout fishing and watersports.
Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park
Lake Tikitapu, 723 Tarawera Road, Rotorua 3040, Telephone: 07 362 8120
The location of the Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park is very special. Nestled in among native bush and at the foot of Lake Tikitapu, better known as The Blue Lake. As you might expect, there are numerous activities to enjoy on the lake including kayaking, boating, waterskiing, fishing, swimming and the 14 acres of grounds within the holiday park also contains a children's playground with trampoline.
The holiday park is only a ten minute drive from the centre of Rotorua and therefore an appealing choice for those wanting to have access to the amenities of a city but rural enough to embrace the ambience of camping in the great outdoors. The Blue Lake does host yearly sporting events so book ahead early or make sure you are not clashing with any major event. Opportunities to walk around the lake, visit other lakes such as Okareka and Tarawera and mountain biking in the Whakarewarewa Forest are all available nearby.
For more information check out our guides to Rotorua Lakes, mountain biking in Rotorua and the Whakarewarewa Forest.
Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park
463 Old Taupo Road, Springfield. Telephone: 07 346 3140
Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park is the closest holiday park to the mountain biking trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest and only a few minutes walk to Te Puia where you can see the world famous Pohutu Geyser.
Accommodation options include campsites, cabins, backpacker dorms, and modern motel units. All guests have access to the well maintained communal kitchen facilities, gas BBQs, bathrooms, laundry, TV rooms, swimming pool (seasonal), kids play area and kids mountain bike track. An added bonus is that all guests are welcome to use the onsite free hot pools.
Waiteti Trout Stream Holiday Park
14 Okona Crescent, Ngongotaha 3010. Telephone: 07 357 5255
Fishing enthusiasts will find the Waiteti Trout Stream Holiday Park a dream. Located right on the banks of the Waiteti stream, campers can fish metres from their tents in a tranquil setting among 2 acres of mature trees and gardens. The stream is teeming with Brown and Rainbow Trout and for novices, tuition is available courtesy of the "Trout Man". The site is only a ten minute drive from the centre of Rotorua and offers lots of freebies in the way of kayaks, trampoline, dinghy and hot spa. For more information on fishing, refer to our Rotorua Fishing Guide.
Cosy Cottage Thermal Holiday Park
67 Whittaker Road, Rotorua 3040. Telephone: 07 3483 793 / Freephone 0800 22 24 24
Cosy Cottage has an abundance of quirky, very Kiwi features. The site is accessed by a short walk through a geothermal reserve (thermal activity but no sulphur smells!) and is located on the shore of Rotorua lake. The site has a private beach with geothermal waters running underneath. Grab a spade from the office and dig your own hot water pool. The Utuhina Trout stream also runs by the park, making it a prime fishing spot. Your hosts then welcome you to cook your fish in the onsite Hangi oven for an authentic Kiwi experience. Also available for use are hot mineral pools, a heated swimming pool, a playground and legendary heated tent sites.